There’s hope for the Israeli sand cat species as one named Rotem gave birth to a girl kitten, Renana (meaning “joy” or “song”), three weeks ago at the Ramata Gan Safari outside of Tel Aviv.
Solitary felines that once freely roamed the sand dunes of Israel, the sand cats are now largely thought to be extinct outside of captivity in that area of the world.
Sand cats are typically only capable of having one or two litters a year, with litters usually numbering under three kittens each. Except for the few days marking a typical mating cycle, the cats tend to keep to themselves.
Zookeepers are hoping to enter Renana into Israel’s Sand Cat Breeding Program, whose mission is to reintroduce sand cats back to their native, natural habitat.